Baltimore, MD- The Maryland Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review(AELR) voted today 17-1 to accept the Maryland State Board of Education’s recommendation to end the statewide school mask mandate effective immediately.
With the regulation now ended, it falls to the hands of the local districts on whether masks will be mandatory or optional.
The next section contains updates from the SoMD School Districts. The rest of this story finishes below that.
UPDATE 5:20 pm- St. Mary’s County Public Schools will be optional masking beginning Monday, February 28, 2022
UPDATE 4:40 pm- Calvert County will not be enforcing a maks mandate and is leaving it up to parents/students. Below are letters from the commissioners.
The above letter is one of five from the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners. The remaining four letters are at the bottom of the article.
(cont) On Monday, February 22, 2022, the Maryland State Board of Education voted 12-2 to end the mask mandate and place it in the hands of local jurisdictions.
The AELR’s vote to end the mask mandate comes roughly two weeks after Governor Larry Hogan wrote a letter to the State Board of Education asking them to end the policy.
The Governor stated in his letter, “Last month, you stated the State Board of Education would continue reviewing current COVID-19 metrics to assess the need for the continuation of the school mask regulation. In light of dramatic improvements to our health metrics and the widespread availability of vaccines, 1 am calling on you to take action to rescind this policy.“
Just two weeks after we called for action, the State Board of Education’s school mask policy has now been officially rescinded.
This is an important victory for students and parents. https://t.co/SNKAAbLpnI — Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) February 25, 2022
State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury appeared before the committee and said the time was right to remove the state restriction and allow local jurisdictions control.
Forthcoming guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to tie masking, social distancing and other mitigation protocols to new COVID-19 hospitalizations, the percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and the rate of cases per 100,000 residents, rather than the total number of cases in a community, he said.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Choudhury said local districts can still choose to use the “off-ramps” when weighing their mask policies.
“We have a very smart response, we have very smart off-ramps, let them decide,” he said. “If they want to come up and use one of the off-ramps, they can. If they do not, then that is fine.”
In an emailed statement from AELR Co-Charis Senator Elfreth and Delegate Rosenberg, they said,” This afternoon, members of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) voted to rescind COMAR Regulations 13A.01.07.01-.06, removing the emergency mask mandate in Maryland Public Schools. The decision on school masking now returns to local school boards of education in Maryland. We continue to urge local jurisdictions to follow the off-ramps outlined in the previous regulation provided by the Maryland State Department of Education and approved by this joint committee. As our State moves forward, many will continue to live with and be adversely impacted by COVID-19. Therefore, we should be mindful and sensitive to the concerns and needs of all Marylanders in the coming months. We should all endeavor to model decency and care to our fellow Marylanders.”
We are now awaiting word from the three Southern Maryland School Districts on their decisions. The following is a list of when the school boards meet next, however, they could vote before the next meeting.
- Calvert County: March 10, 2022. Awaiting word on if there will be something sooner.
- Charles County: February 28, 2022- work session @ 6 pm. Masks are on the agenda
- St. Mary’s County: The next one is not scheduled until March 9, 2022. we are awaiting word on if there will be an update to make before then.